By Dianne Anderson
Before Omicron, the big news at this time last year was that COVID-19 seemed under control, numbers were dropping, and the absence of masks and social gatherings seemed within reach.
It didn’t go as planned.
For this reason, Second Baptist Church of Santa Ana and CalOptima continued their outreach last Saturday for those who may have been undecided about their free tests and free injections, first, second or booster.
Slowly but surely, Pastor Ivan Pitts believes progress is being made amid rumors the shot is safe.
“People can get test kits here. We are at ground zero trying to keep pushing to get people vaccinated,” he said.
Orange County’s black population is small, but it’s encouraged to see above-average numbers for vaccinations compared to other counties.
From the beginning, Pastor Pitts took the lead and got the vaccination first in his family. Since then, everyone has embarked. He said his wife was understandably reluctant about the children at first, but all three are now vaccinated, including his two children over 18 and his youngest son, 13, who requested the vaccine.
His family is doubly vaxxed and boosted with his soon to be boosted youngest set.
“I’ve been very vocal publicly and privately in the pulpit and the parking lot with my position, that the vaccine has been politicized because it’s been politicized,” he said. “He’s been demonized, it’s just another corner issue that’s dividing people in the community.”
In the beginning, legitimate questions demanded answers, such as the rapid development of a vaccine, which he said has been adequately explained by scientists on several occasions. The vaccine formulation, at its core, has been around for years before it was adapted to the current virus.
Another natural reluctance stems from the Tuskegee experiments and historical medical abuse, but this time he said the vaccine isn’t just targeting black people, it’s for everyone. In his church, he hopes to organize vaccination opportunities every two months in the future. Above all, he wants the community to base its decisions on reliable sources of information.
“Don’t let random social media or even mainstream media influence without checking the facts.
“Check the Mayo Clinic, CDC website, UC system, University of Alabama, ‘Ole Miss.’ They will have credible information that you can trust,” he said.
Last week, Black Women Rally reported that 45 black people died of COVID-19 in Los Angeles County, reflecting a steep decline, down 50% from the previous week. The organization said LA County’s COVID-19 masking orders and guidance are effective and should remain in place until black cases and deaths are at their lowest since the pandemic began.
“Although new black cases were down 50%, the number of cases was still higher than at any time during the Delta surge. More black people have died in the past week, and COVID-19 is the leading cause of death in LA County, with older, unvaccinated residents most at risk of serious illness and hospitalization,” they wrote. .
In a joint statement, Dr. Jerry Abraham and Reverend Dawnesha K. Beaver of Kedren Community Health in South Central Los Angeles said the wide gap in California between black vaccinations and other color groups had serious consequences .
“In our state alone, the death rate from COVID-19 for black people is 16% higher than any other demographic. It’s a number we refuse to take lightly,” they said in response to recent cumulative statistics on www.covid19.ca.gov
Other obstacles relate to the homeless, who did not have an address to receive free tests and who were excluded from the distribution process. The elderly and disabled also face barriers, which they are trying to overcome with a home vaccination effort.
But they also say mandatory testing, tracking and reporting are key to controlling the pandemic by avoiding biased data. Positive cases should be accurately identified in the community.
Deaths from COVID-19 may be trending down, but they stressed that now is not the time to get comfortable. Masks and social distancing are slowing the spread, especially in the wake of the next variant, which they say could come in a few months.
The next frontier for the black community will reach younger children aged five to 11, which they say will increase as the vaccine is also approved for ages six months to four years and is due this spring. Yet the community is lagging behind.
“Here at Kedren, we believe there has to be a balance between looking to the future and remembering that there are still many who haven’t even received their first round of vaccinations,” they said. .
The community should also prioritize their regular general and mental health checkups, even during the pandemic. They said pre-existing health issues and appointments should never be ignored, such as AIDS, cancer, diabetes.
“We believe there is always more to be done and we will continue to do all we can to continue expanding access until everyone has a truly equal chance to maintain and improve their health,” they said.
According to the CDC, more than 140,000 American children have lost a parent or guardian to COVID-19.
For information on upcoming SBC vaccination clinics, email [email protected]
or call 714.741.0590
For more information on COVID disparities, see https://covid19.ca.gov/equity/
For more information, see https://covid.cdc.gov/covid-data-tracker/#vaccination-demographics-trends